Days before leading a trade mission to Colombia, officials from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the State Department laid the groundwork for a trip they hope will open new doors for companies in both the United States and the Latin American nation and strengthen the relationship between the countries.
“We view Colombia as one of the shining lights of South America, and it’s progress from a beleaguered, war-torn nation to a country with a bright economic future,” Ambassador David Thorne, senior advisor to the Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Italy, told members of the media during an event on Thursday at the U.S. Chamber to discuss next week’s trade mission.
The U.S. Chamber and the State Department will lead the delegation, which will provide American business leaders an opportunity to forge new relationships and cultivate existing ones with their private sector counterparts in Colombia, as well as meet with the country’s government leaders. The delegation will include executives from several dozen companies representing an array of industries, from energy and health care firms to financial services and information technology corporations.
More broadly, the trade mission is meant to reinforce the vibrant nature of the U.S.-Colombia bilateral trade relationship,” explained Jodi Bond, the U.S. Chamber’s Vice President of the Americas. She noted that U.S. exports to Colombia have increased by 39 percent since the current free trade agreement between the two countries took effect in 2012 -- and there’s plenty of room to keep expanding.
On one hand, Bond explained, “a core theme of our mission will be an expression of U.S. government and U.S. private sector support for investment and economic development in Colombia as the country continues to transition to the post-conflict era.”
At the same time, for the U.S. executives on the trip, Bond said she hopes to show that “there has been grounded, methodic and consistent transformational change in Colombia that will continue. So as our companies look around the globe at places that they can invest in and employ people, and invest back into the communities where they’re doing business, that they see Colombia rise to the top.”
Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia’s new ambassador to the United States, echoed Bond’s and Thorne’s enthusiasm about next week’s visit and the U.S. Chamber’s involvement, calling the latter a sign of the U.S. business community’s growing interest in Colombian markets. He added that, “from an economic perspective, the trade mission comes at a perfect time” because of the global economic slowdown.
“Colombian companies and certainly the Colombian government understand that business investment and job creation is the most important part of Colombia’s agenda,” Pinzón said, adding that next week’s trip will kick off “a long and sustained effort” to bring U.S. companies and investors to the South American country and showcase what its growing economy has to offer.
With more U.S. investment and private sector collaboration between the two nations, he concluded, will come “more opportunities for Colombia to grow and seek long-term prosperity.”